Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Twins continue push to AL Central crown, face White Sox

Field Level Media
17 Sep 2023, 21:55 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins will go for a series victory when they visit the Chicago White Sox on Sunday to wrap up a four-game set.

Minnesota (78-71) has won two of three games against Chicago (57-92) entering the series finale. The Twins won Thursday and Friday, each by a score of 10-2, before falling7-6 on Saturday.

It was a minor setback for the Twins as they head toward a playoff berth and a first-place finish in the American League Central. Minnesota's magic number to win the division is seven.

On Sunday, the Twins will rely on bench coach Jayce Tingler to manage the team. That's because manager Rocco Baldelli will head home to be with his wife as the couple prepares to welcome -- of course -- a set of twins to their family.

"We're excited," said Baldelli, 41. "It's twins, and we didn't know what to expect, and we didn't know or even anticipate making it this far. So we've made it basically to the end of the term that they laid out for us, so that's exciting and I think good for the babies."

The Twins should be in good shape while Baldelli is home.

Minnesota right-hander Sonny Gray (7-7, 2.96 ERA) is set to make his 30th start of the season. The 33-year-old is coming off Monday's loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, as he allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits in four innings.

Gray is 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA in 12 career appearances (11 starts) against the White Sox. He has walked 24 and struck out 57 in 63 1/3 innings.

Many prognosticators believe that the New York Yankees' Gerrit Cole is the top candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, but Gray and Toronto Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman also have been mentioned as contenders.

"I am who I am as a pitcher," Gray said. "I'm a really good, competitive pitcher in this league. If I do the things to take care of myself and just continue to take the ball, the numbers will be what they are going to be. I truly believe that. For me, it's just about taking the ball every time it's my turn. Putting your body and putting your mind into a place that is at an elite level."

The White Sox will counter with right-hander Dylan Cease (7-7, 4.87), who will make his 31st start of the season. Cease, 27, will look for back-to-back victories after limiting the Kansas City Royals to one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.

In 12 career starts against the Twins, Cease is 4-4 with a 4.71 ERA. He has 30 walks and 74 strikeouts in 65 innings.

Cease said he is encouraged by his most recent outing.

"I've been putting in a lot of work to make adjustments, and I haven't really seen a lot of results yet," Cease said. "But (the last start) was a step in the right direction."

--Field Level Media

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